Monday, June 21, 2010

Thanks...yet again

First of all, I want to thank everyone who leapt to my defense when an anonymous commenter decided to excoriate me for...well, for pretty much everything I do here. It was a very strange experience after almost two solid years of blogging, to finally receive the sort of nastiness that every blogger and internet writer knows is potentially coming their way at any moment. I immediately went on Facebook and posted, "I just got my first nasty comment. I'm a REAL blogger now!" And I was only being a little bit facetious with that remark. Because when a blog like this one is new, the readership is pretty small and self-selecting. But in the last few months, the number of visitors has almost tripled, maybe even more, and that means the chances of getting the Anonymous Commenter from Hell have risen right along with it. Most bloggers who have even a modicum of success will get this, and I have a feeling humor bloggers get it with a particular venom, since what we do is particularly easy for the less intelligent among us to misunderstand, and the willfully mean among us to exploit.

What made me sad about the whole thing - and I am utterly to blame for it, since I drew everyone's attention to it on FB - is that we all just gave Anonymous exactly what she wanted. I guarantee you that nothing anybody said made her think twice about what she had done or prevented her from doing it again, to me or someone else, in the future. Because people like Anonymous love to stir the pot, they love to be self-righteous, they live for being indignant and being "misunderstood" by everyone who "focussed on the perceived criticism and totally missed out on the positive intent." I have known many, many people like this. When I worked as an optician, these were the people I kept my radar out for, because they had the most potential to make life for me and my employees quite miserable. But I learned quickly that the best way to deal with them, though I wanted so badly to point out all the reasons they were wrong and then kick them out of the shop, was to never for one second let them see or think that they were getting to me. 

But that was eyewear, which I didn't actually give a damn about, and this is writing, which I care about deeply, and though I am continuing to do what I said we shouldn't, I have to be honest - she got to me. But not because I think anything she said is true (and, oh, the essays I composed in my head that day - taking each "point" she made and tearing it down, with so much evidence to back me up. I even fantasized about taking video of my husband while I asked him just what he does think of me talking about our financial situation online, and oh, that would have been SO GOOD), but because the situation highlighted for me what the difficulties are in putting words out there for the world to read, and for a moment - just a moment, but long enough to matter - I wondered whether I was capable of handling it.

See, when I started the blog, I was as anonymous as our friend. People knew my name was Megan, but that was about it. And anonymity gives you an incredible amount of freedom. For me, someone who had wanted to write all her life but never pursued it seriously for many reasons, anonymity gave me the ability to write without censoring myself. Knowing that there were people out there who could read what I wrote, but whom I would never know, allowed me to to write freely, in my own voice, for the first time. I wasn't trying to impress my parents anymore, or a potential employer or publisher. I only had to please myself, and if other people came along for the ride, great. And the fact that people did come along, and were encouraging, kept me going.

But there comes a point when enough people are reading and commenting, and sending emails telling me not only that they love the blog but that it has been important to them in some way, that it's much harder to maintain that distance, that feeling of freedom. No matter how much I tell myself that this is MY blog to do with as I damn well please, I can't help but feel a sense of obligation. I want to give you what you come here for, and when I fall short of that, it bothers me. 

And then the Quilter's Home articles started coming out, and when they began doing the contributor bio pages and my blog address was published, things changed even more. Not only was I getting more readers, both casual visitors as well as new followers, but people I know started to read this. My parents, aunts and uncles, in-laws. There's a guy I dated for like a week in college (hi, Tom!) who reads this, because I started the Facebook fan page and he noticed. I get emails from people saying, hey I think I know who you are - you used to work at ------, right? And you know my friend/neighbor/third cousin." So now the sphere of people who could misunderstand everything I say and/or disapprove of me for it had just blown up. And these people could make my real life miserable, not just my online one. It's daunting. And as much as I didn't want it to, it changed things; it limited the subjects I could comfortably write about in a public blog. There is much now that I do not tell you, that I probably would have a year ago. 

Lately, I have been immersed in writing other things. I just finished a humor piece that I hope to submit to Smithsonian magazine, and I have others for other publications in progress. I'm also working on a novel, one that I've had the story for in my head for over ten years. I still have my regular Quilter's Home gig, plus on occasion they give me a straight-up feature to write. Sometimes writing the blog is difficult, because so much of my energy is going into other projects. Those other projects do not come easily, and I spend a lot of my days with my head in my hands thinking, "I can't do this." 

So, I think what I am trying to say with all of this is that I am trying to find my way back to that mental place I had not so long ago, where I wrote only to please myself and not anyone else. It's not easy. It means sometimes writing things that some of you won't like. Some of you will feel obligated to let me know that. Some of you will be sure to let me know that you do like it. And in both cases, I have to try to not care so much. Perhaps you can see why that's a bit hard on the psyche sometimes.

But thanks for sticking around and for sticking up for me. It's hard to be bitchy with friends like you.

Oh, and before I forget: fuck. I couldn't let you go without going for a cheap laugh, now could I?


26 comments:

Terri said...

Hey Megan! Maybe you could mentally use the approach that the writing you do for magazines and your forthcoming novel are done for others. The blog is something you just do for you. There's lots of noise made about women not doing anything just for themselves and how important it is to make that time. And I do believe it. Life's too short and you'll never make everyone happy. Write it the way that makes you feel good. Screw the naysayers. Everybody knows how to close a web page. If they don't like what's written don't read it. Be an adult (the reader, not you)
And keep throwing that shit, fuck, damn stuff in all the time.....you're being true to yourself. And thanks!

kheli said...

I believe that there are more of us that love and appreciate you and your honesty than there are unsophisticated cretins and buffoons that just bully and criticize to make up for their own shortcomings. Keep on writing what you want to write, the way you want to write it. If someone doesn't like it, they don't have to read it! My household uses the "dog's point of view": if you can't eat or f#*k it, then piss on it. BTW: I look forward to your blog posts and your Quilters Home stuff! Piece on, sista!

p2w said...

You said "I want to give you what you come here for, and when I fall short of that, it bothers me."
I don't know about everyone else, but I come to read about YOU and your trials and joys with quilting and life, and how can you fall short of being YOU?
Keep up the good work! Love ya!
p2w

Regina said...

But....anonymous gave us the opportunity to make fun of her comment. That's always a highlight for me! It's your blog...do it your way! Perhaps you could channel Frank Sinatra...he did it his way...

Andrea R said...

"There is much now that I do not tell you, that I probably would have a year ago. "

and now you are a real blogger. :)

no really - everyone hits this after they've been doing it a few years. What you do choose to share online is ultimately your choice. though I tell everyone if you wouldn't put it in the local paper, don't out it online.

Beth said...

Fuck 'em. I wish I was brave enough to write that on my own blog.

Stormy Days said...

Megan, I don't have anything to say to your troll, only to you. I have never found any of your comments to be negative. I love the quilts you make for other people and that you want them to come from your heart. So what, if when you need help, someone reachs out and helps you. What a great world this would be if that happened more often.
Sometimes when I'm reading the quilt blogs, I get discouraged. They all seem to have so much time and money, and I have often thought "is quilting only for the well off?". You speak to me and for me. I love precuts, but can't afford them, I can't afford the fabric at my local quilt shop for $11 a yard.
Don't let anyone make you look at yourself and question what you do. Be yourself and don't listen the the haters, they are just really sad people.

Leah Day said...

Hi Megan - I ran into exactly the same problem with my blog and I have 2 bits of advice:

First, start moderating your comments! Seriously! You can click one little button in your blogger settings and start seeing all the comments before they are posted online.

This will keep trolls from hanging out on your blog and force them to start sharing their identity.

There is no reason why someone should be able to hurt you without you knowing who is doing it. It's like being punched in the face in a dark alley and it will always fucking hurt, no matter how many hugs and kisses you get after.

So stop anonymous comments and start moderating. This is also good because you'll be able to read everything and really hear what people are saying: all the wonderful positive stuff that will let you know how awesome you are.

And my second piece of advice: drink and blog.

Of course, this makes me sound like a alcoholic, but sometimes it's really tough to post honestly without hearing all the other voices (your family, your friends, all the expectations).

We read your blog to kick back and relax which means that when you write it, you should try to kick back and relax too.

Cheers chicka!

Leah Day

Norma Riehm said...

I agree with Beth's comment. Fuck-em. You should never apologize or have to explain how you feel, think or your life situation. Life sucks and sometimes it sucks more for some than others. It's always good to hear someone admit it sucks and that life isn't rosy. Your blog draws me in because of your unglossed honesty. You're more couragious than I am, and I admire you for it.

Quilting Queen said...

Megan...don't stop doing what you're doing because of one stupid reader out of HOW MANY????...besides , it/he/she doesn't have to read your blog. I enjoy your "bitchin'" and have gotten a few giggles. they mean a lot to me...don't sweat the small stuff...right!!

Littlebook said...

Can I just say "Ditto" to what Stormy Days said?

I'm also prepared to buy a thesaurus in case you get a negative comment like that again. It got my blood pressure up and that hasn't happened in awhile. (And that was without a big glass of wine in my hand.)

Thank YOU Megan. I really enjoy what you do here.

Rose said...

Megan, I follow your blog and just love your style of writing and your sense of humour. You make me laugh out loud a lot! Screw what anyone else thinks and please don't change a thing.
Rose

Sew Here We Are said...

Not much else to say that the others before me havent taken care of, so here's a drink and some huggs xoxxo

Barbara said...

Megan -

you are my idol - a day without a post from you on this blog is a sorry day for me

your presence makes my life a whole lot brighter

and trolls will be trolls so f*ck 'em all !

Love you !

Monica said...

Pay no mind to anonymous. He/she is just another one of these - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMEe7JqBgvg

Linda said...

Love your blog. Loved the troll on you tube. Just about spit out my pop at the end of your blog entry--why is fuck so intimidating? It is actually an acronym: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge from way back when--so what's so bad about that? Sigh, people can be so silly.

Keep writing and I'll keep enjoying! Lurking Linda

THE MOM said...

Hi again. I have been thinking about what you have been saying in response to how anon made you feel. It's almost like a kind of social censorship - pretty soon you stop saying anything at all that truly reflects how you really feel because it might offend someone or it could turn off a certain audience. Isn't this the type of thing also that we are warned about with potential (or current) employers? They see something you've posted, don't like the flavor, and then you are like pariah (spell check please). What the hell is really going on here? It's like some Big Brother out there watching and judging. Don't stop expressing yourself. It is not like you are spreading hate here. Well, my rant has totally gone away from the fun of your blog, and the joy you bring allowing us to unite in our failures and treasures. Hang in there, and when you see or hear Big Brother again, through em' the ol' finger! Tina in AZ

THE MOM said...

i meant "throw" the ol' finger. I need an editor!

Sarah Craig said...

I would hate to think we could lose your witty blog because of some old anonymous troll - who should at least have the courtesy to leave a name and blog address so we can gang up on him/her if you did quit! Keep up the good work, and remember, you can say anything at all to us, your discriminating readers!!!

Sarah Craig said...

I would hate to think we could lose your witty blog because of some old anonymous troll - who should at least have the courtesy to leave a name and blog address so we can gang up on him/her if you did quit! Keep up the good work, and remember, you can say anything at all to us, your discriminating readers!!!

Nicole said...

Hi Megan,

I read your blog because you are so funny, honest, and whitty! I think if you tried to appeal to every kind of person when you write because you don't want offend anyone it just would not be as enjoyable. If someone is offended by you they can go read another blog!

Anonymous said...

Deborah says:

Thank YOU!

I read today's blog and started crying! I know it's not easy to show people, friends and family in particular, the "real" us. I'm right there with you. I've been struggling lately (a lot) with just trying to be myself (whatever that means...I don't know) and hope against all the evidence to the contrary that the people in my life will still love me. When you've received the message for so many years, as many many women in particular have, that you have to be nice, appeasing, to not make a fuss, considerate, ATTRACTIVE,... in order to be loved, accepted, happy, etc., it's not easy to overcome that type of social, familial, and/or personal conditioning. Both lists go on and on and vary with the individual. It seems that there are ALWAYS negative consequences for being yourself, for showing your heart (whether your heart be a humorous one, a tender loving one, or, yes, even a crotchety one).

So, while there will always be people out there who will try to stomp the life and love out of your heart, know that there are those of us who are inspired by your courage to keep showing it to us.

And, hell yes! Use the moderate function and don't even let those bastards get to see their comment in print...on line.

Thanks for being bitchy! You're my hero!

PS - Please don't remove the Anonymous option from the identity selection!
Thank you

Zany Quilter said...

You are hilarious and who gives a fuck what anyone else thinks! Enjoy your life, write what you want and have fun with it ;-) You should totally write a book with chapters like "What the hell does RST and HSQ mean?" and "The y-seam isn't anything like the g-spot" , "Giving quilting gifts to assholes who end up not being your friend" and other such funnies. Keep it coming!

Michelle said...

Hey Megan, I only discovered you two days ago and I'm back for more. After tears streamed down my face and I peed myself (literally) laughing, I knew I had to become a fan. But if I didn't like what you you wrote, then I wouldn't go back, simple. I commend you for being who you are, because many of us can't. Life's too short and its YOUR blog, no-one elses. Fuck em!

Mary said...

I too am one of your fans and love what you have to say. There are times I wish I had the courage to say it myself. (I am getting better in old age) Life is short, and we all have pressures to deal with. Sometimes you just need someone to listen. We are hear to listen.Keep up your good work!! I lvoe it!!

Tammy Vineyard said...

There is no other place I'd rather be than right here - with my redneck, white socks and blue streak cussin !!!
Other blogs talk about and show perfect points, squares and shit - but we all need to see and hear about the trials and tribulations that it takes to get there - and we're not all fuckin perfect - but like you said Megan - quilting is still a way for all of use to get together for a bitch fest or see what others are doing - we all love you and each other !!!